In Early Tests, $99 Wii Balance Board Outperforms $17,885 Medical RigS

Another day, another story about some cheap, plastic Wii motion control accessory finding an application outside of gaming. In this case, it's the balance board, and not only is this device helping stroke victims recover, it's saving them money, too.

In fact, doctors at the University of Melbourne found that the balance board, normally used for pseudo Yoga or navigating Mii's down a virtual ski slope, was so sensitive it could very well replace traditional laboratory-grade "force platforms" doctors use to assess a patient's balance.

When doctors disassembled the board, they found the accelerometers and strain gauges to be of "excellent" quality. "I was shocked given the price: it was an extremely impressive strain gauge set-up," said lead researcher Ross Clark, in an interview with New Scientist.

Even better, Clark's team has already published a paper that verifies the Wii balance board is "clinically comparable" to the nearly $18,000 lab force platform. That's great news for many smaller physio clinics that would otherwise be unable to afford the traditional rig. [New Scientist]